Which Is Better - PRP Injection or Knee Replacement Surgery?

John V. Tiberi';

By John V. Tiberi

Posted on October 7th, 2019 in Orthopedics

Most patients with osteoarthritis of the knee usually end up with knee replacement surgery.

This usually happens because they did not get good pain relief from oral medications and other conservative treatment methods.

However, with the advent of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection, it has been possible to avoid surgical intervention in a significant number of people.

Osteoarthritis of the knee, a common degenerative condition that causes pain and restricted joint movements, can severely affect the quality of life of those affected by it.

Osteoarthritis Is Common Medical Condition in the U.S.

The condition is widespread in the United States, with a high prevalence of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in elderly people. It affects both genders equally, and at least 10% of men and 13% of women above the age of 60 develop this condition.

It is predominantly the pain associated with knee osteoarthritis that prompts patients to seek medical attention. Early stages of osteoarthritis are usually managed with pain medications such as Paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and exercise and physical therapy.

Intraarticular hyaluronic acid injection and corticosteroid injection are also advised during the early stages of osteoarthritis of the knee. However, in the advanced stages of osteoarthritis, total knee replacement may be required. In recent years, PRP injections have become popular and are effective in various stages of knee osteoarthritis.

Is PRP Injection Superior to Other Injections?

The injection of platelet-rich plasma isolated from the patient’s blood is a type of regeneration therapy, which promotes the healing of degenerating tissues and thereby reduces pain. PRP contains various growth factors that reduce destruction and promote the proliferation of chondrocytes and remodeling.

With the PRP injection, synoviocytes get activated and increase the secretion of mucopolysaccharides to build favorable surroundings within the joint. Thus, PRP injection results in decreased pain, growth of degenerated cartilage, and improved knee function.

Several studies support PRP as the most promising treatment modality for pain management in osteoarthritis of the knee. Recent research has found positive treatment outcomes with PRP demonstrated through improved knee pain scores in most of the studies.

On the other hand, the goal of total knee replacement surgery is pain relief. Still, there is a likelihood of pain persisting or worsening in a significant proportion of patients even if the surgery is done properly.

Pain is the most significant reason for advising knee replacement surgery in patients with osteoarthritis. However, as PRP injection allows regrowth of cartilage and pain reduction, it can be considered a treatment choice before resorting to surgical treatment.